Named after the purest of silicate crystal, which had been used for centuries in jewelry and for carved objects, “Rock Crystal“, was imitated by glass makers in France and England. The clear carved effect was created by polishing engraved glass, which had hitherto been left dull.
In 1878 this style of engraving was introduced at Thomas Webb & Sons. The first patterns so described were of jugs one with large fish in bulrushes, pattern 10992, and another of a large owl, pattern 10993, both dated 6th July 1878, executed by Frederick Engelbert Kny. Although Kny was shown as the first engraver at Thomas Webb & Sons to produced the “flat” rock crystal it was William Fritsche who was to excel in the sculptured rock crystal style a few years later.
This style of engraved glass was adopted by other factories in the Stourbridge area, in particular Stevens & Williams. Although both Webb and S&W allowed Chinese, Japanese and Persian styles to influence theirs designs, S&W through Frederick Carder developed their own distinctive style in this genre.
Other Stourbridge glassmakers followed the rock crystal style including Webb and Corbett.
An exhibition of English Rock Crystal was put on at Dudley Art Gallery, in 1976. It was accompanied by a catalogue with an informative, illustrated, introductory outline of its development, by the scholarly Ian Wolfenden, based on his research into the factory patterns and records.